Dr. Kara Loeb Belinsky


Assistant Professor of Biology
Boyer 203b

Dr. Belinsky received her B.A. in Biology from Skidmore College (1998). She worked as the education coordinator at the Massachusetts SPCA animal shelter in Boston before earning her Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at the University Massachusetts, Amherst (2008). She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Ken Schmidt at Texas Tech University, where she also taught courses in animal behavior and field ecology. During the summers, Dr. Belinsky is a visiting scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY. Dr. Belinsky joined the biology department at Arcadia in the fall of 2011. She currently teaches General Biology (BI-101, 102) and Research Methods (BI-242). She will be developing an upper-level ornithology (the study of birds) course in 2013.

Research Interests

Dr. Belinsky studies the behavior, ecology, and conservation of songbirds. Much of her research has focused on the evolution and function of communication in birds. Dr. Belinsky studied how plumage color and singing performance influences mate choice in two species of wood warblers (chestnut-sided and yellowthroat). More recently, she has been studying the song repertoire (language) of a thrush species called the veery. Veeries sing acoustically complex songs, which feature multiple frequencies (tunes) sung simultaneously. In order to understand how this language works, she records natural veery singing behavior and conducts playback experiments to test hypotheses about the function of specific songs and calls. She is also beginning a new research project here at Arcadia that aims to understand how urbanization affects songbird habitat choice and use, with the hope that from this we can learn how to create more bird-friendly urban habitats.


  • B. Byers, K. Belinsky, and A. Bentley. 2010. “Independent cultural evolution of two song traditions in a population of chestnut-sided warblers”. American Naturalist
  • K. Belinsky, J. Hogle, and K. Schmidt. 2012. “Veeries experience more varied acoustic competition during the dawn than the dusk chorus” Wilson Journal of Ornithology
  • C. Taff, D. Steinberger, C. Clark, K. Belinsky, H. Sacks, C. Freeman-Gallant, P. Dunn, L. Whittingham. 2012. "Multi-modal sexual selection in a warbler: plumage and song are related to different fitness components”.  Animal Behaviour
  • K. Belinsky, and K. Schmidt. In prep. “Two novel vocalizations are used by veeries (Catharus fuscescens) during agonistic interactions”.
  • K. Belinsky, B Beyers. In prep. “Color and song in chestnut-sided warblers: redundant signals or multiple messages?”
  • K. Schmidt and K. Belinsky. In prep. “Singing in the dusk chorus: how veeries cope with the presence of owls”.

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